Happy 'Jounen Kwéyòl' !


International Creole Day

In 1981 a group of French Creole linguists from the Caribbean and Indian Oceans decided to form an organization devoted specifically to the study and promotion of French Creole languages. The new association, called Ban nzil Kreyol, met in 1983, declared October 28 International Creole Day, and held its first international festival on October 28 of that year. Since that time, October 28 has been a day to celebrate the variety of Creole languages. Some people recognize all of October as International Creole Month.


What is a Creole language?

Creole languages started out as pidgins —simplified mixed languages that develop between two peoples who don’t share a language but interact regularly. The languages often developed in European colonies or where there was a strong trade relationship. Pidgin is really a mash-up of two languages with simplified grammar. Over time pidgin can develop into a stable creole language, such as Haitian Creole. That language developed out of the interaction between French settlers and African slaves. The same thing happened on other Caribbean islands settled by the French. But not all creole languages are based on French. Creoles have also developed from the languages of other colonial powers, notably Portuguese and English.

Creole languages that grew up in the United States are still spoken, like Louisiana’s French-based Cajun creole and Gullah, a language, still classified as developing, that is spoken by small communities along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina down to Florida. Louisiana’s legislature officially recognized October as Creole Language Month in 2005.

The biggest and longest running celebration is on St. Lucia where Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) festivities are held every year on the Sunday closest to October 28. The island of Dominica holds aWorld Creole Music Festivalin October-November every year.


Where do we speak French Creole?


  • Haitian Creole, a language spoken primarily in Haiti: the largest French-derived language in the world, with an estimated total of 12 million fluent speakers. It is also the most-spoken creole language in the world. French is its superstrate language, some indigenous Amerindian languages providing substrate input. Some words also derive from English and from Spanish.
  • Louisiana Creole
  • Antillean Creole is a language spoken primarily in the francophone (and some of the anglophone) Lesser Antilles, such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and many other smaller islands. Although all of the creoles spoken on these islands are considered to be the same language, there are noticeable differences between the dialects of each island. 
  • Dominican Creole French, Grenadian Creole French, Saint Lucian Creole French
  • French Guiana Creole or French Guianese Creole is a language spoken in French Guiana, and to a lesser degree in Suriname and Guyana. It is closely related to Antillean Creole, but there are some noteworthy differences between the two.
  • Karipúna, spoken in Brazil, mostly in the state of Amapá. It was developed by Amerindians, with possible influences from immigrants from neighboring French Guiana and French territories of the Caribbean and with a recent lexical adstratum from Portuguese.
  • Lanc-Patuá, spoken more widely in the state of Amapá, is a variety of the former, possibly the same language.

Indian Ocean

  • Bourbonnais Creoles
    • Mauritian Creole, spoken as the mother tongue (locally Kreol)
    • Agalega Creole, spoken in Agaléga Islands
    • Chagossian Creole, spoken by the former population of the Chagos archipelago
    • Réunion Creole, spoken in Réunion
    • Rodriguan Creole, spoken on the island of Rodrigues
    • Seychellois Creole, spoken everywhere in the Seychelles and locally known as Kreol seselwa. It is the mother tongue and shares official status with English and French.


  • Tayo, spoken in New Caledonia


  • Petit Mauresque or Little Moorish was spoken in North Africa
  • Français Tirailleur Pidgin language spoken in West Africa by soldiers in the French Colonial Army, approximately 1850–1960.
  • Camfranglais in Cameroon


  • Tây Bồi, Pidgin language spoken in former French Colonies in Indochina, primarily Vietnam.


Let's learn Antillean Creole! 

Antillean Creole is spoken, to varying degrees, in Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint Martin, Saint Lucia, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (mainly in Macuro, Güiria and El Callao). 

French kreol

Hello - bonjou [bonzu] (from "bonjour").
Please - souplé [su plɛ] (from "s'il vous plaît").
Thank you - mèsi [mɛsi] (from "merci").
Excuse me - eskizé mwen (from "excusez-moi").
Today is a nice/beautiful day - jodi-a sé an bel jounin (from "aujourd'hui c'est une belle journée").
How are you/how are you keeping - ka ou fè? (Guadeloupe) / sa ou fè? (Martinique) sa k ap fèt? (Haitian).
Anne is my sister/mother/wife - Ann sé sè/manman/madanm (an) mwen
Andy is my brother/father/husband - Andy sé fwè/papa/mari (an) mwen
He is going to the beach - i ka alé bodlanmè-a/laplaj (from "il va aller au bord de la mer/à la plage")

Quite similar to French, don't you think? ;-)


Some interesting videos :

Listen Chris native from Calabash Cove, located on the northern tip of St. Lucia, teaching David a native English speaker a quick lesson on the local language, Creole. In this iPhone Short, Chris informs David on the history and roots, as well as some of the basics (and not so basics) of the local language.

For those like me who love learning languages and are looking forward to visiting Haiti here is THE KREYOL MINUTE episode 1 where Sendy teaches us how to say hello in Haitian Kreyol.

If you know more, don't hesitate to share with us some more vocabulary in the comment section below!


Credit: mtmlinguasoft.com and wikipedia